By: James Smith
With the Olympics coming up, it’s no surprise that American glories of the past, and the potential ones of the future, are on everyone’s minds -- and that it’s giving people reason for hyperbole. Among the prognosticators is the Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant, who declared last week that he thought this year’s US basketball team would beat the famed 1992 Dream Team in a head-to-head matchup. Really?
It also didn't help that when asked his opinion, Dream Team member Larry Bird quipped that he believed the current US Olympic basketball team could beat their 1992 counterparts, telling reporters: "They probably could. I haven’t played in 20 years and we’re all old now."
So we here at Daily Lounge decided to figure just which team would win in a theoretical showdown (breaking the boundaries of time) by breaking down the lineups. Here's what we came up with:
1992: Patrick Ewing, David Robinson
2012: Tyson Chandler
If Dwight Howard weren’t injured, the calculus on this one might be a bit different, but as it is Dream Team runs away at Center. Chandler may have the height advantage, but Ewing in 1992 was squarely at his peak as one of the most dominant centers in NBA history. He played all 82 games in the ‘91-’92 season, scored 1970 points, blocked 245 shots, and made 921 total rebounds. Chandler’s best season, 2007-2008, is barely anywhere in the same category. That year, though he beat Ewing’s rebound total (with 929), he barely managed even a third as many blocks (84) scored over a thousand points fewer (929). EDGE: DREAM TEAM
1992: Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin
2012: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony
This is, clearly, the greatest area of strength for the 2012 team: we just came off a Finals series that was based all around the LeBron / Durant duel, and Carmelo Anthony, whether or not you feel good about him, is one of the best scorers in the game today. More pertinently: LeBron James is the best basketball player alive right now. Meanwhile, we don’t even know who Chris Mullin was, and by 1992, Larry Bird was was a shell of his former self (though a shell of Larry Bird was still better than most other players in the league). Scottie Pippen can’t single handedly swing this. EDGE: 2012 TEAM
1992: Christian Laettner, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley
2012: Kevin Love, Anthony Davis
Since no one actually knows who Christian Laettner was, this one comes down to Malone and Barkley against Love and Davis. And... I mean, seriously? Barkley was one of the top ten to fifteen NBA players ever and was at the peak of his powers in 1992. Karl Malone is in the Hall of Fame and, with teammate (and fellow Dream Teamer) John Stockton, formed one of the most fearsome duos ever seen in basketball. Anthony Davis is an unproven rookie with a unibrow and Kevin Love mostly has the distinction of being the lone superstar on one of the league’s worst teams. EDGE: DREAM TEAM
1992: Michael Jordan, Clyde Drexler
2012: Kobe Bryant, James Harden
Look, Kobe’s great, and James Harden has the best beard in the league (and probably in American professional sports). But we don’t even have to mention that Clyde Drexler is in the Hall of Fame because Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player who ever lived. EDGE: DREAM TEAM
1992: John Stockton, Magic Johnson
2012: Russell Wesbrook, Chris Paul, Deron Williams
This is the toughest matchup of the bunch -- and might be even tougher, if Derrick Rose were healthy enough to take the place of Deron Williams. There’s little doubt that there’s more depth at the point guard position around the league in 2012 than in 1992. Still, it’s hard to argue with the two that made the 1992 team: Magic Johnson needs no introduction, and John Stockton, often overlooked for the relative lack of flash in his game, was both one of the most consistent and most prolific point guards in history. Of the three top-notch point guards on the 2012 squad, only Chris Paul feels like he might someday be in the same territory as the other two. EDGE: DREAM TEAM
There you have it: the Dream Team would carry the day!
[pic via Wikimedia Commons - Ken Hackman]